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The Jewish JesusHow Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other$

Peter Schäfer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153902

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153902.001.0001

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The Young and the Old God

The Young and the Old God

(p.55) 2 The Young and the Old God
The Jewish Jesus

Peter Schäfer

Princeton University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the problem faced by the rabbis when they were confronted with the fact that the God of the Hebrew Bible assumes various guises, using the example of a relatively early Palestinian midrash. There, the heretics take advantage of the fact that God is sometimes portrayed as a young war hero and sometimes as a merciful old man. Countering the heretics' argument that these various manifestations point to two divine powers of equal right in heaven, one old and one young, the rabbis insist that their God, despite his varying appearances, nevertheless is always one and the same—never changing and never growing old. The danger evoked by such an interpretation of the Hebrew Bible is obvious: one immediately thinks of the Christian notion of the old and young God—God–Father and God–Son.

Keywords:   God, Hebrew Bible, Palestinian midrash, heretics, divine powers, old God, Young God, God-Father, God-Son

GOD APPEARS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE NOT ONLY UNDER different names; he even takes on different guises or, as it were, assumes different incarnations. This phenomenon also did not escape the attention of the rabbis; or, rather, the rabbis could not miss it, because it was used by their heretical opponents in quite obvious ways and gave rise to debates between them. Speaking of rabbinic “opponents,” I again leave it an open question as to whether we are dealing with opponents from within, that is, within rabbinic Judaism, or opponents from the outside, that is, groups or rather certain individuals that were on the verge of dissociating themselves from the rabbis as they were increasingly defining themselves.

We encounter the earliest and most famous instance of such a debate in the Mekhilta, a midrash on the biblical book of Exodus. The dating of this midrash is controversial, although most experts tend now to an earlier dating, placing its final redaction sometime in the second half of the third century C.E. The midrash in question is an exegesis of Exodus 20:2: “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” This (p.56) exegesis is preserved in many parallels, but I quote it according to the version of the Mekhilta:1

“I am the Lord, your God (YHWH Elohekha)” (Ex. 20:2).

Why is this said?

For this reason. At the sea he [God] appeared (to them) as a mighty hero (gibbor) doing battle, as it is said: “The Lord (YHWH) is a man of war” (Ex. 15:3).

At Sinai he appeared (to them) as an old man (zaqen) full of mercy, as it is said: “And they saw the God of Israel, etc.” (Ex. 24:10). And of the time after they had been redeemed, what does it say? “And the like of the very heaven for clearness” (ibid.). Again it says: “I beheld till thrones were placed” (Dan. 7:9). And it also says: “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him, etc.” (Dan. 7:10).

(Scripture, therefore,) would not let the nations of the world have an excuse for saying that there are two powers (shetei rashuyyot), but declares: “I am the Lord, your God” (Ex. 20:2)—­

I am he who was in Egypt and I am he who was at the sea.

I am he who was at Sinai.2

I am he who was in the past and I am he who will be in the future.

I am he who is in this world and I am he who will be in the world to come, as it is said: “See now that I, even I, am he, etc.” (Deut. 32:39). And it says: “Even to old age I am the same” (Isa. 46:4). And it says: “Thus said the Lord (YHWH), the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (YHWH tzeva’ot): I am the first, and I am the last” (Isa. 44:6). And it says: “Who has wrought and done it? He that called the generations from the beginning. I, the (p.57) Lord, who am the first, etc. [and with the last I am as well]” (Isa. 41:4).

R. Nathan says: “From here one can give an answer to the heretics (minin) who say: ‘There are two powers (shetei rashuyyot).’ For when the Holy One, blessed be he, stood up and exclaimed: ‘I am the Lord, your God’ (Ex. 20:2), was there any one who stood up to protest against him?”

If you should say that it was done in secret—has it not been said: “I have not spoken in secret, etc.” (Isa. 45:19)? “I said not to the seed of Jacob” (ibid.), (that is), to these (alone) will I give it. Rather, “they sought me in the desert” (ibid.). Did I not give it in broad daylight (pangas)? And thus it says: “I the Lord (YHWH) speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (ibid.).

This midrash is part of a well-structured collection of exegeses on Exodus 20:2, the very beginning of the Decalogue. I have argued elsewhere that this collection, focusing on Israel’s competition with other nations concerning the revelation of the Torah, bursts the narrow confines of the so-called exegetical midrash —of which the Mekhilta is a prime example—and borders on what is soon to become the so-called homiletical midrash.3 One needs a precise knowledge not only of the midrash’s way of arguing but also of the presupposed exegeses that are only alluded to. Our midrash begins with a question that makes sense only if we quote Exodus 20:2 in full: “I am the Lord your God (YHWH Elohekha), who brought you out of the land of Egypt,” literally “I, who brought you out (asher hotzetikha)”—in the singular. Hence the real question is: why is the verb attached to “I am the Lord, your God” (again, Elohim being grammatically a plural and hence prone to the dangerous translation “your gods”) explicitly put in the singular? Answer: the singular “I brought you (p.58) out” ensures that the plural Elohim refers not to two or more gods but to one God only. So far the argument follows the familiar pattern.

But, as the continuation shows, the problem goes deeper. Now our anonymous rabbinic author admits that God in fact does make different and conflicting appearances in the Bible, most commonly as a warrior and as an old man: at the sea—which, of course, refers to the Red Sea (Ex. 13:18ff.)—God appeared to his people as a war hero, and on Mount Sinai he appeared as an old man. By implication, the warrior is a young man—as opposed to the old man on Mount Sinai.4 These two manifestations of God are documented by appropriate biblical proof texts—Exodus 15:3 for the warrior and Exodus 24:10 with Daniel 7:9f. for the old man.

Exodus 15:3 as proof text for the young warrior is straightforward and poses no problem: after God had killed Pharaoh and his troops in the Red Sea, Moses and the people of Israel praised the divine war hero for his victory over the Egyptians. But what about Exodus 24:10 as proof text for the old man? Here again we need the full biblical text to understand the proof:

(24:10) And they saw the God of Israel: under his feet there was something like the work of sapphire stone (livnat ha-sappir, literally: sapphire brick), like the very heaven for clearness.

This verse can serve as proof text for God being an old man only if we take it to literally mean that the enigmatic “work of sapphire stone” under God’s feet—which has worried many exegetes—was in fact his footstool, that is, a footstool needed by an old man.5 And indeed, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, translating the verse Exodus 24:10, explicitly refers to the “work of sapphire stone” as the footstool (hypopodion) under God’s feet.6

(p.59) Why the sapphire stone (or rather, brick) was used as God’s footstool—merely alluded to in our midrash (because it isn’t crucial for our midrash’s argument)—is explained in another midrash; in fact, the footstool is completely incomprehensible in our midrash and probably alluded to only because it is directly linked to the sapphire brick and serves here to illustrate that God, in the guise of an old man, is full of mercy.7 The starting point of this midrash is the odd “sapphire brick” in the biblical proof text—after all, the sapphire is a precious stone and not a precious brick. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exodus 24:10 gives the following explanation:

Nadab and Abihu lifted up their eyes, and they saw the glory of the God of Israel; and in place of8 the footstool (hypopodion) of his feet which was placed beneath his throne (they saw) something like the work of sapphire stone—a memorial of the servitude with which the Egyptians had oppressed the children of Israel to serve in clay and bricks. There were (Israelite) women treading clay with their husbands, and (among them) was a delicate young woman, who was pregnant and lost her fetus, and (the fetus) was crushed with the clay. Thereof Gabriel descended, made a brick of it [the embryo], lifted it up to the highest heavens and put it as a footstool (gelugdaq) in place of the hypopodion of the Lord of the world.

So now we know why the sapphire in Exodus 24:10 is called sapphire brick and not sapphire stone, and how it got into heaven—it was actually a brick containing the miscarried fetus of an Israelite woman in Egypt, hence not just any brick but a very precious brick. God used it as his footstool, presumably as a constant reminder of Israel’s forced labor in Egypt. It is only against this background that the no less enigmatic continuation of our (p.60) midrash makes sense: “And of the time after they had been redeemed, what does it say? ‘And the like of the very heaven for clearness’ (Ex. ibid.).” After Israel was redeemed from Egypt, that is, after God had redeemed his people from Egypt, he no longer needed the “sapphire brick” as a memento of his people’s slavery—the sapphire brick disappeared, and the heavens were shining again in their original clearness.9 The editor of our midrash is not bothered by the fact that God, along with the disappearance of the sapphire brick, also loses his footstool. He uses the midrash of the sapphire brick only to prove that God, as an old man, needed a footstool and that this God, in the guise of an old man, has proven to be “full of mercy”: he has exchanged his royal footstool for a sapphire brick so as to be permanently reminded of his people’s forced labor, in need of his mercy and of redemption. Nor is the editor bothered by the fact that the footstool of sapphire brick had actually disappeared at the revelation on Mount Sinai, since by then God had already redeemed his people from Egypt. For him it is important only to demonstrate that, in contrast to the young warrior at the Red Sea, the God who revealed himself on Mount Sinai was a merciful old man.

The second proof text for God being an old man (Dan. 7:9f.) is again easier to understand if we quote it in full:

(7:9) I beheld till thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His garment was like white snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were blazing fire. (10) A river of fire streamed forth from before him; thousands upon thousands served him, and myriads upon myriads stood attending him. The court sat down and the books were opened.

(p.61) This couldn’t be clearer: God, the “Ancient of Days,” taking his seat on his heavenly throne is graphically described as having white hair (pure wool is white), that is, as an old man. We don’t need the explicit mention of a footstool here; the image is clear. And actually verse 10, too, is superfluous, unless the emphasis isn’t placed on the river of fire that streams from and before the throne (the only part of the verse quoted in the midrash) but on the innumerable servants of the Ancient of Days: the divine king has attained an advanced age, for he requires many servants. But this isn’t very likely, particularly since the ending of verse 10 with the heavenly court does not go well with our midrash, which wishes to underscore God’s mercy. The emphasis clearly lies on verse 9—the Ancient of Days with white hair—and not on the river of fire and the heavenly court in verse 10.

Having proven that God indeed takes on the appearance of both a young and old man, the editor returns to the initial verse Exodus 20:2: despite his different incarnations—Scripture clarifies this point against the objection of the nations of the world—God always remains one and the same. The young warrior God in Egypt and at the Red Sea is the same as the old and merciful God on Mount Sinai; the God of Israel’s past is the same as the God of Israel’s future; and the God of this world is the same as the God of the world to come (the eschaton). God in fact does not even grow old; he remains the same—at the beginning of his history with his people Israel, as well as its end.10 Different manifestations of God do not mean that there are different gods.

Whereas this first part of the midrash comes along anonymously and is directed at the “nations of the world,” that is, all those nations not Israel, the second section is attributed to R. Nathan (a fourth-generation tanna and contemporary of Rabbi) and explicitly addresses the heretics. The heresy in question is in (p.62) both sections the heresy of the “two powers,” that is, the belief in just two (and not multiple) deities. Unlike the problem of God’s different names discussed in the previous chapter, where most of the respective midrashim were connected with the act of creation, here the heresy of two powers raises its seductive head at the very moment when God revealed himself as “the Lord, your God” on Mount Sinai. R. Nathan’s midrash presupposes, therefore, that the nations of the world11 were present, together with Israel, when God revealed himself as the Lord. The nations (this is R. Nathan’s argument) were given the chance to protest God’s claim to being the one and single God not only for Israel but for all nations—but they were cowards and did not dare seize the opportunity. Since they did not veto God’s claim when they had their chance, they implicitly accepted it and shouldn’t now pretend that they had always been against it.12

The third and last section of our midrash (it is unclear whether or not it is part of R. Nathan’s exegesis, but I would opt for the latter, namely, that it is an addition to R. Nathan) responds to and expands R. Nathan’s argument. First, it counters the possibility that God made his claim secretly—and that the other nations could not therefore protest against it. Isaiah 45:19 states explicitly, it argues, that God did not speak “secretly, in a land of darkness.” But then, second, the midrash moves to another subject that is not necessarily implied in the previous exposition of Exodus 20:2. That is to say, whereas the gist of our midrash on Exodus 20:2 centers on God’s proclamation to all the nations that he is the one and only God, now the emphasis shifts to the related but different question of whether God offered the Torah to Israel alone or to the other nations as well.13 The answer is given in a complicated—and probably even slightly corrupt14—exegesis of the last part of Isaiah 45:19. The verse, typically translated as “I did not say to the seed of Jacob: seek me in chaos (tohu baqqshuni),” is here broken down into two sections: the first (p.63) part, “I did not say to the seed of Jacob,” is understood as “I did not say to the people of Israel that I will offer the Torah only to them”; and in the second part tohu is interpreted not as “chaos” but as “desert,” and the verse is decoded as meaning “they (that is, the people of Israel) sought me (God) in the desert,” in other words: Israel asked me to give the Torah to them—and I complied with their desire and gave them the Torah, however, in broad daylight and not in the dark of night. The other nations had ample time and opportunity to intervene and make their claim; that they didn’t is their fault and gives them no right to lay claim to the Torah now.

Is it possible to determine more precisely the heresy in question and the group(s) behind it—beyond what we have noticed so far? Both parts of this question are of course closely related. As to the kind of heresy, the midrash clearly has two complementary powers in mind, not two opposing powers. This rules out, as Segal has correctly observed, any gnostic system that relies on two opposing deities—one supreme and one inferior god.15 But when Segal goes on to discuss, over many pages, all the possible options for the heretical groups involved (Hellenistic Jews, Gentiles, gentile Christians, “God-Fearers,” Jewish Christians, etc.), one cannot help but think that he overshoots the mark. Such an extremely differentiated demarcation of the various groups is prima facie highly problematic; or, to put it differently and more pointedly, the search for neatly differentiated groups is in itself misguided, since it acts on assumptions that are anything but self-evident. Segal published his book in 1977, and more than thirty years on we now know that the static picture of early consolidated groups or sects competing with and fighting each other should be abandoned in favor of a more dynamic image of yet undefined and fluent clusters that were constantly changing, overlapping, and influencing each other. It becomes increasingly clear, however, that the notion of two complementary powers (p.64) (either with one subordinate to the other or with both on an equal footing), which seems to lie at the heart of the matter, leads us into the imperial structure of the Roman Empire and its repercussions on the development of a binitarian and trinitarian Christian theology.

Yet Segal proposes to go a step further, wishing to demonstrate that in fact the quotation from Daniel, if taken seriously in all its implications, presents the real core of the midrash—namely, that we need to take into consideration not only the quoted verses Daniel 7:9f. but also Daniel 7:13f. (the verses speaking of the “one like a human being,” traditionally translated as “Son of Man”):

  • (7:13) As I watched in the night visions,
  • I saw one like a human being,16
  • coming with the clouds of heaven.
  • And he came to the Ancient One (‘atiq yomayya)
  • and was presented before him.
  • (14) And to him was given dominion and glory and kingship,
  • that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.
  • His dominion is an everlasting dominion
  • that shall not pass away,
  • and his kingship is one
  • that shall never be destroyed.

Since the Daniel passage, including the verses 13 and 14, may be understood as referring to two separate divine figures (the “Ancient of Days” and the “Son of Man”), Segal argues, it is this possible interpretation that poses the real danger not made explicit but only alluded to in our midrash.17 Daniel Boyarin has taken up this line of argument18 in a number of recent articles19 and contends:

(p.65) It is the passage from Daniel that is alluded to, but not cited in the anti-“heretical” discourse [in our Mekhilta midrash], the “Son of Man” passage so pivotal for the development of early Christology, that is the real point of contention here and the reason for the citation of the verse Exodus 20,2. … The text portentously avoids citing the Daniel verse[s] most difficult for rabbinic Judaism, [Dan. 7] vv. 13–14.20

Boyarin goes on to insinuate that from the full Daniel quotation (Dan 7:9f. and 7:13f.) it becomes clear that the real issue in our midrash is “the doubling of descriptions of God as senex (judge) and puer (man of war) and the correlation of those two descriptions with the divine figures of Ancient of Days and Son of Man from Daniel.” When the two divine (!) figures swiftly mutate to “a Father-person and a Son-person,” the desired Christological implications—spiced up with oblique references to the prologue in the Gospel of John, the Memra theology of the Targumim, and subtle terminological distinctions in the Christological discourse—become only too obvious.21

This is quite a creative interpretation of our midrash. True, the young and old dichotomy is crucial to the midrash, and it rests on the juxtaposition of Exodus 15:3 (man of war = young man) and Exodus 24:10 plus Daniel 7:9f. (old man). But Daniel 7:9f. is quoted for no other reason than to prove that God can and sometimes does manifest himself as an old man—the same reason why Exodus 24:10 is quoted (as well as Exodus 15:3, namely, to prove that God sometimes manifests himself as a young man)—and it is pure speculation that the Mekhilta, in quoting Daniel 7:9f., wishes to allude to another midrash on Daniel. 7:9f. and 7:13f.22 As a matter of fact, with the exception of one sugya in the Babylonian Talmud (to which I will turn in the next chapter) there exists no such midrash unequivocally juxtaposing Daniel’s “Ancient of Days” and “Son of Man” in such (p.66) a way as to insinuate or attack the idea of an old and a young deity.23 To be sure, the rabbinic midrash frequently fails to quote explicitly the part of the biblical proof text crucial to its interpretation (because it presupposes that every reader or listener knows the Bible by heart and can easily complement the part that is not quoted), but in our case the whole midrash revolves around the problem of two deities, and it would be more than odd if the author quoted Dan. 7:9 in order to prove that God manifests himself as an old man, while at the same time leaving it to the ingenuity of the reader or listener to complement this proof text with yet another one that implies the manifestation of a “young God” (the Son of Man of Dan. 7:13f.). More precisely, if the author of our midrash had wanted to use Daniel 7:13f. as proof text for a “young god” as opposed to an “old god,” the appropriate (and easy) place would have been immediately after the quotation of Exodus 15:3—but this is what he did not do.

Boyarin is certainly right in referring to the puer senex typology; in his eagerness, however, to apply it to the Ancient of Days and Son of Man typology in Daniel, he fails to explain it in its own terms. The puer senex motif is well known in the Greek and Roman literature; its main purpose is to advocate an ideal according to which a young man presents himself (e.g., in court) as an experienced and merciful (!) senior judge (puer senilis), whereas an old man—despite the limitations of old age—proves his juvenile spirit.24 The person who achieves the puer senex ideal is one and the same individual, not split into two personae. As employed by our midrash, this motif means that the Jewish God embodies the ideal of the puer senex—the young and simultaneously wise and serene old man—yet the “nations” (i.e., the Greeks and Romans) should not mistake this classical ideal and split these qualities of God into different divine personae. Moreover, since the emphasis in the midrash is placed not just on the juxtaposition of “young” and “old” but also of “war hero” and “merciful (p.67) judge,” the “nations” may be tempted to abolish the puer senex equilibrium and to divide the one and only Jewish God into two gods or even—according to the various tasks assigned to them—into a pantheon of multiple gods.

Thus does it appear that in our midrash the cultural and religious context of the Roman Empire once more comes to the fore—although Christian theological implications cannot be completely ruled out. As we have seen, this context and theological considerations are inextricably linked, but in our Mekhilta midrash they remain in the background. The Daniel exegesis may well lead to Christological reflections, but the Mekhilta certainly does not (yet) presuppose speculations about Daniel’s Ancient of Days and Son of Man in the sense of a Christian Father-God and Son-God; to discover the imprint of such reflections in the Mekhilta means to misconceive the exegetical structure of the midrash. This is not to say, however, that Daniel 7 played no role in the discussion of two possible powers in heaven. As the next chapter will demonstrate, it did; yet we need to pay close attention not only to how the sources develop their ideas about the unity and diversity of God but also to the provenance of our sources. With the Mekhilta we are no doubt in Palestine and probably as early as the second half of the third century. The evidence to be discussed in the following chapter will lead us into the realm of Babylonian Jewry, a very different world, with all its distinctive characteristics and peculiarities.


(1.) MekhY, ba-hodesh 5 and shirata 4 (ed. Horovitz-Rabin, pp. 219f. and pp. 129f.; ed. Lauterbach, vol. 2, pp. 231f. and 31f.); the translation follows Lauterbach. Parallels: MekhS, Ex. 15:1 (p. 81) and Ex. 20:2 (p. 146); MHG Ex., pp. 398f.; PesK, ed. Mandelbaum, p. 223; PesR, ed. Friedmann, p. 100b; TanB Yitro 16 (p. 40a); Yalq Yitro 275 (p. 167b); ibid. 286 (p. 172a); Yalq Isa. 463 (p. 797b); ShemR 28:5; b Hag 14a; MidrHakh, p. 16; SekhT, p. 202; LeqT Ex., pp. 66b–67a; We-hizhir, p. 23a; cf. SifDev § 329, ed. Finkelstein, p. 379. On this, see Peter Schäfer, “Israel und die Völker der Welt: Zur Auslegung von Mekhilta deRabbi Yishma‘el, baḥodesh Yitro 5,” FJB 4, 1976, pp. 32–62.

(2.) “I am he who was at Sinai” only in the printed editions.

(4.) The parallel in MekhS, ed. Hoffmann, p. 81, corrects the (in my view, original) opposition of war hero versus old man to young man versus old man, whereas PesK, ed. Mandelbaum, p. 223, expands the opposition to war hero (at the sea) versus scribes (Mount Sinai) and old man (Daniel) versus young man (Solomo). PesK clearly reflects a later development.

(5.) Most recently Adiel Schremer, correctly observing in opposition to Boyarin (see below) that the purpose of Ex. 24:10 in the Mekhilta is to prove that God appears as an old man, has suggested another solution: God appears as an old man because livnat ha-sappir in Ex. 24:10 means the whiteness of sapphire and therefore God “is said to have been seen as ‘white,’” that is, as an old man (Adiel Schremer, “Midrash, Theology, and History: Two Powers in Heaven Revisited,” JSJ 39, 2008, p. 246). Schremer gives no proof for such a midrash (in (p.284) fact, he creates a new one) and seems unaware of the rabbinic texts about the sapphire brick; nor does he know my article “Israel und die Völker der Welt,” in which I discuss them.

(6.) For the midrashic parallels, see Schäfer, “Israel und die Völker der Welt,” p. 40.

(7.) The warrior God of Ex. 15:3 is the God of justice, and the God of Ex. 24:10 is the God of mercy.

(8.) The Aramaic word used here (tehot) usually means “beneath, under,” but the meaning “in place of, instead” is also possible and more appropriate here: the sapphire brick was not placed under God’s (regular) footstool but was put there instead of it, as a substitute.

(9.) Thus, explicitly, in a midrash attributed to R. Levi b. Sisi and Bar Qappara, both tannaim of the fifth and last generation; see WaR 23:8; y Suk 4:3/4 (fol. 54c); PRE 48 (fol. 116a/b); ShirR 4:8, § 1; Sif-Zut Num. 10:35 (p. 267); TanB beshallah 11 (fol. 30a).

(10.) The fact that God doesn’t age is taken a step further in the piyyut Az be-’ein kol and expressed in the wonderfully paradoxical phrase: “You are ever renewing, / for in the beginning you were aged, / and in the end youthful”; see Michael D. Swartz and Joseph Yahalom, eds. and trans., Avodah: Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005, pp. 96f.

(11.) Although he speaks of “heretics” and not of “nations.”

(12.) One could also argue that it was not the “nations” that missed their chance to reject God’s claim but the other gods; yet this seems unlikely in view of the context and the subsequent exegesis of Isa. 45:19.

(13.) This question is part of the larger context of our midrash in the Mekhilta, but still needs to be kept separate.

(15.) Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, p. 50. But when he sees in R. Nathan’s exegesis the opposition to “gnostic sectarians” (ibid., p. 57), he is back on that one-dimensional and simplistic “gnostic” track.

(16.) Ke-var enash, literally “like the son of a man.”

(18.) Without giving Segal full credit for it. This has also been noticed by Schremer (“Midrash, Theology, and History,” p. 245, n. 41), (p.285) but it does not prevent him from presenting the “new” interpretation as if it had been invented by Boyarin—an interesting case of scholarly attribution.

(22.) This has also been correctly observed by Schremer, “Midrash, Theology, and History,” p. 245: “In a sense, then, instead of reading the midrash, Boyarin in fact re-writes it”; see also id., Brothers Estranged, pp. 82ff. In his response to Schremer (“Beyond Judaisms,” p. 338), Boyarin now argues that the quotation of Dan. 7:10 in fact includes Dan. 7:13f.—although he admits that this reading is “a bit of a stretch.” Indeed, it is a stretch, despite his attempts to convince us otherwise.

(23.) For b Hag 14a, see below, p. 285, n.2.

(24.) Christian Gnilka, Aetas Spiritalis. Die Überwindung der natürlichen Altersstufen als Ideal frühchristlichen Lebens, Bonn: Peter Hanstein, 1972, pp. 49ff. Among the many biblical individuals who served as models for the late antique Christian ideal, Moses, David, Daniel, and, of course, Jesus figure prominently (ibid., pp. 228ff.). I thank Christoph Markschies for this reference.